Podcaster: Richard Drumm
Title: UNAWE Space Scoop – What’s Like The Sun and The Earth – Only Redder and More Massive?
Organization: 365 Days Of Astronomy
Link : http://365daysofastronomy.org/ ; https://spacescoop.org/en/scoops/2125/this-one-winged-cosmic-butterfly-holds-a-baby-star/
Description: Space scoop, news for children.
Astronomers have discovered a super-Earth, which are planets that are much like our Earth but more massive. This one is near the habitable zone of a red dwarf star that’s only 36.6 light-years away from us.
That’s really, really close by, all things considered!
Bio: Richard Drumm is President of the Charlottesville Astronomical Society and President of 3D – Drumm Digital Design, a video production company with clients such as Kodak, Xerox and GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. He was an observer with the UVa Parallax Program at McCormick Observatory in 1981 & 1982. He has found that his greatest passion in life is public outreach astronomy and he pursues it at every opportunity.
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This is the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast. Today we bring you a new episode in our Space Scoop series. This show is produced in collaboration with Universe Awareness, a program that strives to inspire every child with our wonderful cosmos.
Today’s story is…
What’s Like The Sun and The Earth – Only Redder and More Massive?
Astronomers have discovered a super-Earth, which are planets that are much like our Earth but more massive.
This one is near the habitable zone of a red dwarf star that’s only 36.6 light-years away from us.
That’s really, really close by, all things considered!
Red dwarfs are stars that are smaller than our Sun, and you can find many of them in our solar neighborhood.
About 75% of the stars in the Milky Way are red dwarfs.
And 50 of the 60 closest stars to us are red dwarfs too!
They’re ideal targets to look for planets outside our Solar System and good targets for life outside of our Earth.
This red dwarf was discovered by astronomer Frank Elmore Ross in 1925 and is known as Ross 508. It’s class M 4.5 star and it has 17.7% the mass of our Sun.
Being so low mass as this, the star should have a nice, long lifespan of about 2 trillion years.
The star and its companion planet, called Ross 508 b, are located in the direction of the constellation Serpens Caput, near to the bright star Arcturus in Boötes.
The constellation Serpens was considered to be part of the constellation Ophiuchus but around the year 1600 it was depicted as separate from it by Johann Bayer, the famous German celestial cartographer.
Then the Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte split it into two separate parts in the 1920s, called Serpens Caput, the snake’s head on the west side, and Serpens Cauda, the snake’s tail, on the east.
Caput is where Ross 508’s located.
Now, for a planet to have any chance of signs of life it needs to be located at a certain distance from its parent star.
A distance where the temperature and conditions are such that liquid water can exist on the planet’s surface.
Astronomers call this region the habitable zone or the Goldilocks zone.
Ross 508 b has about 4 times the mass of Earth and lies on the inner edge of this habitable zone.
The team of astronomers, led by Professor Bun’ei Sato at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, also found that the planet moves in an elliptical orbit so that only part of its orbit puts it in the habitable zone.
To observe planetary systems like Ross 508, scientists at the Astrobiology Center in Japan developed a special infrared instrument called the Infrared Doppler (IRD), mounted on the Subaru Telescope.
Red dwarfs have a low temperature, and don’t emit much visible light compared to other types of stars, making it a bit difficult to study them.
Luckily, they appear brighter in infrared wavelengths, so an instrument like the IRD is perfect for the job!
With powerful telescopes like Subaru, astronomers can now study further if water or life is present on Ross 508 b and check for better candidates for future habitable planets around other red dwarfs too!
Hey, here’s a cool fact!
One year on this planet is equal to 11 days on Earth.
But don’t get your hopes up that there’ll be advanced life here.
At best there could be some sort of super hardy lichen.
Red dwarfs are called “flare stars” because they belch out dangerous radiation and fierce stellar winds.
Even though they’ll have a super long lifespan, they’ll blast you with radiation.
Not good for life.
And for half it’s 11 day “year” 508b is much closer to the star than the inner edge of the habitable zone.
So 508b is certainly tidally locked to its star with one side constantly being fried while the other is likely frozen.
But between the two extremes is an area where the red dwarf star would be on the horizon and water could maybe exist.
And where there’s water… I’m just sayin’!
Thank you for listening to the 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast!
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365 Days of Astronomy
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